Posts tagged #usability

Facebook Places - Miles To Go Before I Checkin

I have to tell you that I thought this technology (Facebook Places) was going to crush the "checkin" landscape. No I think it's a big pain in the ass. There's a ton of 'cover your ass' screens I felt like I was going to get porn at the end. I understand that the process will streamline itself and that Facebook at least didn't put a bullet in their eye by doing a private roll-out *COUGH-COUGH!* Google Wave *COUGH-COUGH!* So with that said let's just wait and see. But a few things to note on the screen process below:

  1. The oh-so-helpful error screen to start
  2. Followed by the fact that it can't find my office that I check into every day
  3. "Ask Them First" -- Really. LOL.
  4. "Learn More" on the fourth screen – intuitive fail
  5. And the reward is it gets posted to my Facebook – wait, didn't Foursquare already do this?

Look, I'm not player hating, just pointing out some pot-holes that I'm sure will be smooth out in time. There's a lot of thinking right now and sadly you can't make people think in the usability world.

Addendum: This also goes to great lengths to tell me how important the 'game play' aspect of FourSquare and Gowalla is. The anticipation of points and badges, beyond simply telling the world where you are is a key factor for Facebook Places to become a success. There's simply too much "checkin fatigue" here to make this a viable part of my social graph.

"Facebook Places" – It's Not Your Big Brother – IT IS BIG BROTHER

Tonight Facebook released "Facebook Places" there shoe-horn into the location (proximity) based landscape. This should come as no surprise as Foursquare, GoWalla, Yelp and others have been clawing each others eyes out to make hay while the sun shines. Well the suns officially eclipsed by the 500-million pound gorilla called "Facebook."

I don't have a defined opinion pro or con on the service but to say that Facebook clearly sees that this is a defined part of digital social communication and therefore we should all be paying attention. And while many of us have been singing the praises of location based marketing long before now this will assuredly make your physical location a major kernel in the fabric within your social graph. But without a doubt Facebook already has profiled me better than the FBI could (if they're not already collecting all our data from Facebook); having this next level of granularity is about as close as you'll come to 'being me' short of mounting a camera on my forehead. That's in next years roll-out I'm sure.

Below you will find all the elements I could aggregate tonight from various news sites and first hand accounts of the release.

Facebook Places is a checkin service that’s quite similar to Foursquare or Gowalla on the surface — it allows you to checkin to places. What differentiates it is its tagging features, which allow you to tag friends that are with you at a location. There is also a focus on Facebook Place Pages, which house the checkin history of a given place on the web.

Facebook says it is adding Places merely to enrich the social experience it already provides. The company says its users already post status messages that say things like: “at Starbucks in Harvard Square with Susan and Jeff.” Now, they can tap a new Places icon in the Facebook app on their iPhones and do this more easily, complete with a map. “We’re just building a new way for people to share that information in an engaging way,” says one Facebook official.

• Initially, the service will only be available as an iPhone app or through a special web site - which the company says works really nice on Android and other smartphones.

• You can “tag” friends that are with you at a specific location. Thus, everybody doesn’t have to check-in on their own.

• Facebook is partnering with Foursquare and Gowalla, two already-popular location-based social networks that also allow users to "check in."

• Places lets you see your friends and other Facebook members (even if they’re not your friends), who are nearby, a feature called “People Here Now.”

• You also have the choice to turn off the ability for friends to check you in at Places. Go to your Privacy Settings and turn off the setting to "Let Friends Check Me In."

• Facebook included tagging and the ability to check friends in as well, with strict privacy controls. Users can opt out if they wish, both from tagging and checking in.

• Integration is simple: every time you check-in, you can share it with your Facebook friends, Twitter, or just to your Yelp friends. It publishes a photo of the business as well as some info about it on your wall.

• Facebook appears to be asking users to opt-in as opposed to forcing them to opt out, which is what spurred controversy with the instant personalization feature.

• I-Phone only with Android and other platforms to roll out ASAP.

• Fourquare also has turned off some potential users with a big overlay of game-like features, like earning points and badges for visiting places, and even the ability to become the “mayor” of, say, a bar you frequent.

• You may want to share your check-in information with third-party applications that build interesting experiences around location, such as travel planning. Applications you use must receive your permission before getting this information.

DIY Usability Testing – Part Two

I got a comment off of a review of a website service called 'Usabilla' on post I wrote regarding making money off of usability testing. Marcus (said commenter) having left NO email or reply but DID leave an Australian IP address, pointed out an Australian company called And while it felt like he might be selling his own product I did check it out.

Much like Usabilla, Loop11 allows you to create your own tests, invite participants to interact with your materials and then you'll receive an assortment of returned data from the process. I'll say this, I'm glad to see that there are these services available to us and now you have some companies to compare.

A few more companies for your consideration set:

This is a must read:

And for your consideration here's 'A List Apart Article' on "The myth of Usability Testing." I'm just trying to stay objective here people.

Posted on January 7, 2010 and filed under DIY, Interactive, Technology.

Front Doors, Teleportation, Microsites & Your Brand

I was inspired by an article that I read today called "What Vegas Can Teach You About Marketing." And the answer it "plenty!"

"Create lots of entry points. The one thing that is immediately obvious about Las Vegas is just how many entrances most places have. You can go in through the front, the side, the back, underneath, above and (it seems) any way in between as well. Parking is usually free, and escalators always lead into a casino and only go the opposite direction in some places. The end result is that no place has only one front door. Whether you are talking about a physical location, or an online destination, the lesson in this is clear: invite people into your experience in as many places as you can."

I've been asked in clients meetings – "What are your thoughts on microsites?" Well it's interesting how microsites, banners, external sites, URL clustering and social media all play a role in what I call "Front Doors." When's the last time you went to a SUPER store and had to find a door? Went to the mall and had to decide where to park so you could get inside? Never. Right.

So jump ahead now to your website. Getting your audience to interact with you story, brand and messaging still follow the exact same rules. You being by teeing up (usually within a traditional advertorial process like TV, radio or print) your messaging that get your 'story seed' planted in the minds of the consumer. This leads them to the microsite, continues the where to story left off and offers even more payoff should you go into the 'main' site. What the microsite does as well is play the dual role of entry point for your online banners, social media efforts and buzz tactics. The construction of these front doors are up to you, how many, where and so on. It's also extremely important to pay off the content the deeper you user goes into the rabbit hold. It's also important to know when to stop. If your microsite has little to do with you main site, such as a contest or event, it might not be condusive for your to push your user any further than where they are now.

This leads us to teleportation. Marketers forget that just because you have a user on your 'main website' does not mean that they know where to go. It's important to study the way your user flows through your site and more importantly that you give me the ability to jump (or teleport) around you content. Internal ads, call outs, hyper links in content, search functionality, breadcrumb and intuitive navigation are all quintessential to the success of any large website.

This teleportation is also important if you have unique divisions within your content such as, men's, women's and children's clothing – same site, totally unique experience. So as your informational architecture starts to take on area's of visual and contextual differentiation you can get your user there from one of many 'front doors.'

The future of websites is modularity. Allowing you the brand to snap on and off directives as you see fit allowing you a greater ability to optimize your online without having to start over each time. So this metaphore of teleportation is important to remember both while building up and tearing down.

Posted on January 7, 2010 and filed under Advertising, Interactive, Strategy.